An Argument For Fusion
If you look at the numbers – in 21 years, many countries will run out of oil and gas [2, 3, 8]. Energy will look like a poker game. Most international players will be knocked out. The remaining nations will hold all the chips. The imbalance in oil and gas will have a big impact. About eighty percent of the worlds’ energy comes from fossil fuels . What are we going to do? Bill Mckibbens has argued that we will start a world war over this . No one can predict the future. But mankind is facing a major energy shortfall. 21 years is not far off. You reading this; you could be alive then.
Everyone has got an energy plan. We have seen waves of speakers at TED tout their new ideas. Al Gore and his supports have argued that we can fill the gap with renewables; notably geothermal . We will probably need all of these plans. Different solutions are needed in different places. But, everything needs time to develop. We have to get started now.
But, we are not doing it. Ignore the green talk. Use of fossil fuels has been rising worldwide . The reason is money. If you do not think money runs the world: ask someone with a job. Fossil fuels are dirt cheap. They have been since the dawn of the industrial revolution, 250 years ago. In all that time, through many governments, markets and ideologies - we have burned it. We still burn it. Our world is wired for fossil fuels. It is going to take strong forces, as well as time to wrench us away.
Wrench Us Away:
These forces could be environmental, political or economic. An environmental force is when we break the planet, to a point where it becomes unlivable. I hope this never happens. We cannot let that happen - but we have already done so much damage. A political force is when people everywhere decide to ignore the economics and act on Earths’ behalf. Thomas Friedman has pushed for this . I do think it will be fast enough, absolute enough, or permanent enough. There is not much time. Political will may work in some countries, but not everywhere. It may work eventually, but not soon enough. It may work for periods, but not forever. This is all due to dirt cheap fossil fuels. The last option is economic. We find new sources of energy, and their prices are so low - that it pulls in the entire world. These must make zero greenhouse gases. They must scale-up to have an impact. Finally, we need to be able to jockey them into our infrastructure.
The field of possibilities is vast. We can redesign almost everything around energy conservation. This includes transportation, cities and farming. There exists as many choices for energy generation. There is a set of options that Bill Gates has called: energy farming . These are renewables. They are green, but they lack the energy density, or scale of fossil fuels. There is a myriad of fission options. But these are expensive, complex and less safe. Many options simply mitigate burning carbon: burn less, pollute less or find new sources. Finally, there is our way of life. We can, we should, and we must be gentler to the Earth. It is the only home, we have ever known.
Fusion Trumps All:
Fusion blows the competition away. The energy released is - by far - the most mankind has ever encountered. It should make you think differently about our energy options. If abused, it could destroy our planet [6, 7]. A good illustration of this, is what one thousand megawatts looks like, in different forms [A, B, C, D, E, F]. This is shown below.
Fusion, Middle School Style:
On March fourth, Jamie Edwards became the youngest person in the world to fuse the atom. He is an 8th grader in Lincolnshire, England. He did this with three thousand pounds, and a principals’ blessing. His fusor works the same way a polywell does. This was news. Over fifty articles reposted the news across the web . Jamie got a letter of congratulations from His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York . He also got an appearance on the Letterman show . There was even a political cartoon in the daily mirror.
It is impossible to predict the future. People have been promising grand things from fusion, for decades. But this is not 1980 – it is 2014. Today, we are closer to fusion power than we have ever been. Today we are more strapped energy, more limited for resources and support more humans than ever before. Powerful forces are at work. They are reshaping civilization. Energy and climates’ sway worldwide is gradually swelling. The trajectory is clear. Every nation is going to be looking for energy. If they have not yet, they will be soon. Fusion is the most plentiful source known to mankind. IEC has recently broken away, as a simple, ultra-cheap path to fusion. The conditions are ripe: interest in this is going to explode - and it cannot happen soon enough.
1000 MW Citations:
A. Oil, coal, uranium and fusion estimates from: Ongena, J., and G. Van Oost. "Energy For Future Centuries Will Fusion Be An Inexhaustible, Safe And Clean Energy Source?" Fusion Science and Technology 45.2T (2004): 3-14. Http://www.ans.org/store/j_464. Web. Mar. 2004.
B. Fusion numbers also came from: Lee, Sing, and Sor Heoh Saw. "Nuclear Fusion Energy—Mankind’s Giant Step Forward." Journal of Fusion Energy 30.5 (2011): 398-403. Print.
C. Solar predictions were from a real plant in India: Jai, Shreya. "India to Build World's Largest Solar Power Plant in Rajasthan." Http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/. The Economic Times of India, 21 Sept. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2014.
D. Cow calculations were based on: Otaraku, Ipeghan J., and Evelyn.V. Ogedengbe. "Biogas Production from Sawdust Waste, Cow Dung and Water Hyacinth-Effect of Sawdust Concentration." International Journal of Application or Innovation in Engineering & Management (IJAIEM) 2013th ser. 2.6 (2013): 91-93. Web. June 2013.
E. Napier grass were from a real project in Thailand: Vivanpatarakij, Supawat, Weerin Wangjiraniran, Raksanai Nidhiritdhikrai, and Dawan Wiwattanadat. "Potential Study of Electricity Generation 1000 MW with Biogas in Thailand." Advanced Materials Research 622-623 (2012): 1209-212. Print.
F. Wind calculations were based on a California wind farm: "GE Acquires California Wind Farm, UK Energy Management Firm." Sustainable Business. Sustainable Business, 12 Jan. 2011. Web. 09 Apr. 2014.
Other Citations :
1. Friedman, Thomas L. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution-- and How It Can Renew America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. Print.
2. "World Energy Outlook 2013 Factsheet." Www.worldenergyoutlook.org. International Energy Agency, 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.
3. "AEO2014 Early Release Overview." E Annual Energy Outlook 2014. Energy Information Agency, 2014. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.
4. "Google News for Jamie Edwards." Google News Service. Google Inc., 15 Mar. 2014. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.
5. "Royal Letter of Approval for Schoolboy Who Broke Record." Lancashire Evening Post Website. Lancashire Evening Post, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
6. Siegel, RP. "Fusion Power: Pros and Cons." Triple Pundit RSS. People, Plant, Profit, 12 July 2012. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
7. Meadows, Donella H. The Limits to Growth; a Report for the Club of Rome's Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: Universe, 1972. Print.
8. Ongena, J., and G. Van Oost. "Energy For Future Centuries Will Fusion Be An Inexhaustible, Safe And Clean Energy Source?" Fusion Science and Technology 45.2T (2004): 3-14. Http://www.ans.org/store/j_464. Web. Mar. 2004.
9. "Years of Fossil Fuels Remaining." Energy Realities. Energy Realities Project, 2011. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
10. "U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis." International Energy Outlook 2013. U.S. Energy Information Administration, 25 July 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
11. Lee, Sing, and Sor Heoh Saw. "Nuclear Fusion Energy—Mankind’s Giant Step Forward." Journal of Fusion Energy 30.5 (2011): 398-403. Print.
12. Jai, Shreya. "India to Build World's Largest Solar Power Plant in Rajasthan." Http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/. The Economic Times of India, 21 Sept. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2014.
13. Orchard, Bryan. "Blue Mountain Biogas Plant Turns Pig Manure into Power." - Jan 15 2014 12:00 AM. Pollution Solutions, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Apr. 2014.
14. Otaraku, Ipeghan J., and Evelyn.V. Ogedengbe. "Biogas Production from Sawdust Waste, Cow Dung and Water Hyacinth-Effect of Sawdust Concentration." International Journal of Application or Innovation in Engineering & Management (IJAIEM) 2013th ser. 2.6 (2013): 91-93. Web. June 2013.
15. Gore, Albert. Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2009. Print.
16. McKibben, Bill. Eaarth. New York: Time /Henry Holt, 2010. Print.
17. Cusick, Daniel. "Fossil Fuel Use Continues to Rise." Scientific American Global RSS. Scientific American, 25 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
18. Gates, William, III. "Innovating to Zero!" 2010 TED Conference. TED Conference, Long Beach California. Feb. 2010. Speech.
19. Vivanpatarakij, Supawat, Weerin Wangjiraniran, Raksanai Nidhiritdhikrai, and Dawan Wiwattanadat. "Potential Study of Electricity Generation 1000 MW with Biogas in Thailand." Advanced Materials Research 622-623 (2012): 1209-212. Print.
20. "News/education." Jamie Goes from Fusion to Letterman. Lancashire Evening Post, 09 Apr. 2014. Web. 09 Apr. 2014.